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Paulanne Simmons

Two Kindred Spirits: Neil Sedaka and Jim Van Slyke


“The Sedaka Show”
Jim Van Slyke
Directed and conceived by Brian Lane Green
Music direction and arrangements by Tim Di Pasqua
Laurie Beechman Theatre
At the West Bank Café,
407 West 42nd Street
March 5 at 7 p.m., 7 at 8 p.m., 14 at 4 p.m. and 15 at 7 p.m.
$15 cover, plus $15 food and/or beverage minimum, (212) 695-6909
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons March 5, 2009

Jim Van Slyke

Jim Van Slyke, whose Sedaka show will be at the Laure Beechman Theater March 5, 7, 14 and 15, says that as long as he can remember he’s shared “striking similarities with Sedaka.” These similarities include the sound of their voices, the ability to play the piano and classical training. All of this is appealingly evident in Van Slyke’s show.

“The Sedaka Show” features many of the singer/composer’s hits: “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Laughter in the Rain” and a Doo Wop Medley that begins with “Oh Carol,” written for Carole Klein (a.k.a. Carole King) and ends with a tune made famous in a film starring Connie Francis, “Where the Boys Are.”

The show also includes “treasures that we dug up” and “unexpected collaborations” that reveal “a whole other side of Neil Sedaka.” Among these collaborations are “Bad Blood,” written with Phil Cody and interpreted by Elton John (“before he was sir”) and “Turning Back the Hands of Time,” with music by Giacomo Puccini and lyrics by Neil Sedaka.

One of the most delightful segments of the show is when Van Slyke sings songs from Sedaka’s children’s CD, songs with lyrics such as “where the toys are” and “waking up is hard to do.”

But for Van Slyke, Sedaka is at his best as a balladeer. And Van Slyke certainly does the composer justice with his warm and rich interpretations of songs like “The Hungry Years,” “Should’ve Never Let You Go” and “Solitaire.”

Except when Van Slyke takes over at the piano for “Solitaire,” he is accompanied by his musical director and arranger, Tim Di Pasqua, who occasionally adds his subtle, harmonic voice.

Directed and conceived by Brian Lane Green, “The Sedaka Show” is a captivating tribute to an artist who has been entertaining and thrilling audiences for five decades.

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